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Myanmar’s UK ambassador says military attaché ‘occupying’ embassy

Myanmar’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom (UK) Kyaw Zwar Minn (L) stands locked outside the Myanmarese Embassy in London, the UK, on April 7, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Kingdom (UK) says a junta-linked figure from Yangon is occupying the Myanmarese embassy and not allowing him to the diplomatic perimeters, almost a month after the envoy broke from the military regime in his country.

The military in the Southeast Asian country staged a coup on February 1, ousting the government of Aung San Suu Kyi and imprisoning her and other political leaders. The junta sought to justify the putsch by alleging that Suu Kyi’s party won elections in late 2020 by rigging votes.

Since then, waves of protests have been staged in Myanmar, demanding the release of Suu Kyi and the other detained figures, and returning the power to the ousted government.

More than 581 people have been killed by security forces since then, advocacy group the Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said. Nearly 50 of the dead were children.

The military coup has ignited international outrage and pleas for restraint, as the junta continues a violent crackdown on protesters.

On Wednesday, Myanmar’s Ambassador to Britain Kyaw Zwar Minn said that he had been locked out of the embassy by his country’s defense attaché, who was inside. “They occupy my embassy,” he told reporters.

Protestors also gathered outside the building in London’s Mayfair neighborhood with the envoy.

He further said that he would stay outside the embassy “all night,” stressing, “This is my building.”

Last month, the junta recalled the envoy after he issued a statement urging the coup leaders to release Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

“Diplomacy is the only response and answer to the current impasse,” Kyaw said in the statement, which was tweeted by British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Britain’s Foreign Office, which has condemned the coup, said in a statement that it was “seeking further information following an incident at Myanmar’s embassy in London.” The Metropolitan Police, for its part, said that they were also aware of the situation.

“When I left the embassy, they stormed inside the embassy and took it. They said they received instruction from the capital, so they are not going to let me in,” Myanmar’s ambassador told the Daily Telegraph, calling on London to intervene.

Separately on Wednesday, the Committee for Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a group representing the ousted government, said in a statement that it had gathered 180,000 pieces of evidence showing alleged rights abuses by the junta, including torture and extrajudicial killings.

“This evidence shows wide-scale abuses of human rights by the military,” it said.

A lawmaker for the CPRH, which comprises lawmakers from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, also met UN investigators earlier in the day to discuss purported atrocities by the junta.

The pieces of evidence, according to the group, include those of more than 540 alleged extrajudicial executions, 10 deaths of prisoners in custody, torture, illegal detentions, and disproportionate use of force against peaceful protests.

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